Historical Tool - Plane

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Historical Tool - Plane


Planes did not go completely out of use during the ‘Dark Ages’, although few have survived, suggesting that there was not the demand for highly finished woodwork during this period. Emphasis was on carved decoration, rather than quality joinery. Very little survives in fact much before 1600, and tool historians have been forced to rely on paintings, illuminated manuscripts and early printed books. Increasing demand for high quality wooden architectural features and furniture after 1600 led to a revival of the plane in all its forms. The development of manufacturing processes like veneering also called for even higher standards, and directly contributed to the rapid evolution of new types or improvement of existing standard tools.Many 17th and 18th century planes had elaborate scrolled handles and carved decorations, although the basic form remained unchanged until the early 19th century. Specialist plane makers began to appear from the early 1700s. A major design improvement was introduced in the 1780s, in the form of the double iron or cutting edge to prevent tearing. Industrially produced all metal steel planes became common from the late 19th century, although wooden planes continued to be available until recent times.

Historical tool

Hand planes are generally the combination of a cutting edge, such as a sharpened metal plate, attached to a firm body, that when moved over a wood surface, take up relatively uniform shavings, by nature of the body riding on the 'high spots' in the wood, and also by providing a relatively constant angle to the cutting edge, render the planed surface very smooth. A cutter which extends below the bottom surface, or sole, of the plane slices off shavings of wood. A large, flat sole on a plane guides the cutter to remove only the highest parts of an imperfect surface, until, after several passes, the surface is flat and smooth. When used for flattening, bench planes with longer soles are preferred for boards with longer longitudinal dimensions. A longer sole registers against a greater portion of the board's face or edge surface which leads to a more consistently flat surface or straighter edge. Conversely, using a smaller plane allows for more localized low or high spots to remain.

Planing wood along its side grain should result in thin shavings rising above the surface of the wood as the edge of the plane iron is pushed forward, leaving a smooth surface, but sometimes splintering occurs. This is largely a matter of cutting with the grain or against the grain respectively, referring to the side grain of the piece of wood being worked.The grain direction can be determined by looking at the edge or side of the work piece. Wood fibers can be seen running out to the surface that is being planed. When the fibers meet the work surface it looks like the point of an arrow that indicates the direction. With some very figured and difficult woods, the grain runs in many directions and therefore working against the grain is inevitable. In this case, a very sharp and finely-set blade is required.

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